Super Best Audio Friends

The evolution of the original irreverent and irrelevant and non-authoritative site for headphone measurements, i.e. frequency response graphs, CSD waterfall plots, subjective gear reviews. Too objective for subjectivists; too subjective for objectivists

Check out this video:

Short summary:

Cameron (aka Golden Sound or @GoldenOne) reveals that dCS has threatened legal action over his negative review of their dac (Bartok), which our community should also attention to because it's about the ethics of such threats and their impact on honest product criticism in the audio industry.

Longer summary:

(Disclaimer: possible bias on my end through either my poor understanding and/or siding with Cameron's position)...
The Grell OAE1 headphones are a new product designed by Axel Grell, formerly the chief engineer at Sennheiser and now the founder/owner of Grell Audio. They feature an unconventional structure where the drivers are positioned significantly in front of and away from the ears. This design choice appears to be aimed at minimizing pinna interactions and potentially enhancing spatial representation of sound. The intention seems to be to achieve a more natural and realistic audio reproduction.


Although I was not 100% sure if his claims are legit, as a huge fan of non-traditional acoustic designs, I was highly tempted to get my hands on the pair, expecting something at least different if not necessarily better. After weeks of waiting after pre-order was placed, I finally received the product this morning and spent approximately 6 hours evaluating them...
Since I planned to spend more than half of my time in San Antonio during the summer, setting up a work-from-home arrangement there seemed logical. I needed a desk, a good keyboard, and a mouse to augment my travelling laptop. I invested in a nice desk (details to follow in a review). For the mouse, I opted for a budget-friendly, lightweight Coolermaster model, deciding against splurging on a Glorious O. While I already had a basic keyboard without switches back in Corpus, this time I didn't want to deal with buying and installing switches. That's when I recalled Keychron keyboards, recommended by one of my favorite YouTube personalities, Keybored. I figured these mechanical keyboards were ready to use out of the box yet customizable later to fit my preferences.

After a brief Amazon search, I found several models available. Favoring TKL designs, I opted for the higher-end Keycron K8 Pro. It boasts programmable RGB backlighting, Gateron Brown Switches, PBT keycaps, a sturdy aluminum frame, support for both MacOS and Windows, and Bluetooth Wireless—something I initially overlooked but ended up finding quite convenient.

Welcome to this first episode of scrapheap stories, or build log if you will, documenting how I am going from this junk box:
Into something like this:


Q: So what am I looking at?
A: End of 2019 I started the Bill Of Materials for my ß22 headphone amp, which I completed as pictured in plastic IKEA box early 2020. It is a fully functional 2-board, passive ground configuration powered by a single σ22 and controlled by a no-name stepped attenuator. I never got around to boxing it up. Not in a small part due to being impatient to listen to my handiworks, and knowing how much time & effort it took to previously nicely box up a Hypex UcD180HG HxR speaker amp. Following that I had some excursions into Singxer SA-1, MCTH & Eufonika H5 and H7 territories. It has been collecting dust in my garage for the two years since.
I was interested in hearing the Bakoon as the successor, Enleum AMP 23-R, has received positive reviews and I am curious about it's interesting design and possibilities as an AIO amp.


I initially tried the Bakoon with my Freya+ in front as I do with all the other amps, but it sounded really off. In this configuration the Bakoon is connected to the Yggydrasil via SE so they may limit performance.

The labels for the inputs and outputs are on the bottom of the chassis so if you can't remember which speaker out is + or - you have to flip it over. And they are not color coded like the rca inputs. To turn on the unit you can use the remote button or spin the volume knob quickly clockwise. The volume control knob is free to spin like a modern car stereo knob and does not have a set min/max. To get to a usable volume, I have to spin the knob 3 or so revolutions or click the remote 20 times. Not awful, but it resets when you change inputs or turn the unit off so you have to do it all again. What was a quirk quickly turned into an annoyance by the end of my time with it.
Truthear Gate
MSRP: $18.99

The unit reviewed here was provided by Shenzhen Audio

Truthear is known for their bang for buck sound quality, and the Gate is their newest and most budget oriented set, replacing the discontinued Hola.


Where the Hola was an 11mm dynamic with LCP diaphragm, the Gate is a 10mm dynamic with carbon LCP diaphragm. Impedance and sensitivity are nearly the same between the two drivers. That being said, I do find the Gate to play slightly louder than the Hola at the same volume level on the same device.
Look what the cat dragged in? (I had no idea a Caldera Closed exists until recently - I have still yet to review the Atrium Closed).


Tonally, the Caldera Closed sounds like a combination of the Massdrop Fostex TH-X00 and an Audeze. There's a hint of the TH-X00's W frequency response and this is combined with a dose of Audeze's recessed mids (not as extreme). The lows are not voluminous, but there's some solid mid-bass punch going on. Other aspects such as timbre and transients are like the Caldera Open. Suffice to say that ZMF tuning is quite different from Harmon, so you if love the Harmon target (whatever version or moving target it's up to now), best to go elsewhere.

From memory, I feel the Caldera Closed does have a better sense of heft or solidity in the lows with marginally better articulation compared to the Open version. Maybe it's the cups? Still the Caldera Closed falls in the category of "orthos for dynamics lovers". It doesn't quite have the vivid mode presentation of modern megabuck orthos (Empyrean, Susususvara, Abyss, etc.)
Hi everybody! We are at it again in the Bay (see the impressions from the last meet: If you are interested in bringing your gear and getting a table spot, please join the discord (link below) and fill out the sign up sheet. I will follow up with you in the coming weeks to give you details on the event, etc. That being said, if you have headphones or IEMs (or even DAPs) that are portable, feel free to bring those with you and carry those around to test out all the cool stuff that will be there. So here are the details:

Important notes:
  1. If you are selected to bring your own setup, please arrive 1 hour before the event to set up. There will also be 1 hour after the event is over to break down and pack up.
  2. Gear list to come.
We are sponsored by Schiit Audio!!! Please thank them for helping us put together this meet and be able to enjoy this bigger venue and the space needed to bring more of us together! Also for sending us awesome gear.

Note: Please be conscious of your manners and hygiene. If there’s a line growing behind you or for the table, limit your listening time and come back when the table isn’t as packed. Let’s let everyone listen. Also keep in mind you will be demoing other people’s gear. Please be clean, wash up, don’t put products in your hair, clean your ears, etc. Be respectful. There’s a lot of cool gear here.

Location and Date/Time:
Sunday July 28, 2024
10:00 AM – 3:00 PM PST
420 S 1st St
San Jose, CA 95113

Eventbrite/Tickets (Free) Link:
Since there is increasing chatter in the profile posts and @atomicbob's system synergy thread, I think Vali 3 should have a dedicated thread.


For high impedance dynamic headphones, Vali 3 is shockingly good, even with the stock tube. Roll in a $25 GE 5670W and be prepared to get off the sub $1k amp merry-go-round.
After shopping around for a cool mean looking bumper for the Jeep, I decided on Next Venture Motorsports Adventure Series. I didn't opt for the stinger bar because I highly doubt I would be taking trails so steep that would risk the Jeep flipping front over and also because it would add weight or possibly crush pedestrians in the head or chest (my son just turned 16 and high-schoolers are on their phone don't look where they walk). I did however opt for the skid plate based on my experience in Moab with the 4Runner last summer (underneath armor is always good). The Next Venture piece caught my eye for several reasons:
  • Bent, shaped and welded in the USA. Colorado.
  • Next Venture has a nice website with manuals, specs, weights, links to videos, etc.
  • Stubby instead of full width, thus exposing the tires and making the Jeep look more scary
  • Three piece. Bumpers are heavy. Three pieces makes dealing with each individual lighter piece easier. Also the design has a separate winch tray, allowing me to ponder about the winch for later without worrying about taking the entire bumper off.

Final piece. The lower skid plate. Had to wait until my kids got home to hold it up.

Looks badass.
A shout out to for lending us the Weiss DAC204. This thread will be new one split from here where it all started: This will on the loaner after I am done with measurements and wrap up with my in-a-nutshell summary.


Weiss DAC204 Coax input 1kHz 0dbFS
I bought this tiny $27.oo amp with a $17.00. Smooth, good detail not sure if the bass is up to par. Im using an Etir with a $6.00 amazon coax cable and cold with any breakin im really enjoing it. A fun amp/dac thats cheap and sounds good, who would of thought. d3.jpg